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Pride Week stays one week later

Tourism could see a boost

In case there was any confusion, Pride Toronto (PT) is saying once and for all that the festival will not be changing back to the last week of June.

Executive director Tracey Sandilands says the G20 wasn’t the only reason PT pushed the date forward.

“It’s good we did change it because Pride could never have been held the same weekend as the G20,” she tells Xtra.

In 2009, PT announced Pride Week 2010 would run June 25 to July 4, as opposed to the last week of June.

Sandilands says rescheduling Pride Week “saves the Stonewall tradition.” If the 2010 festival had kept its original dates, it would have started on June 18 and ended on June 27, missing Stonewall’s anniversary by one day.

“One of the reasons we changed the date is because it marks the date of Stonewall,” she says.

Pride Week celebrates the anniversary of the Stonewall rebellion on June 28, 1969, in New York City, which is what gave rise to the gay movement.

“Moving the week forward keeps the anniversary of Stonewall in that week’s period,” she says.

In 2014 Toronto will play host to WorldPride, a semiannual event that could bring millions of people to the city from June 27 to July 6, 2014.

“So it doesn’t make sense to move the festival back, have it the last weekend in June for a couple years, then move it forward again for 2014.”

“At the time there was a lot of criticism of us being puppets of the government, saying we moved the date because of the G20,” she says. “At the time a big problem was that the G8 was going to be held in Huntsville, and we knew there would be such a strain on city resources that Pride must suffer as a result. We changed our dates even before we knew the G20 would be held in Toronto.”

At the recent PT Community Advisory Panels, some asked that Pride Week be changed back to the previous week. Sandilands says that’s not likely to happen.

For tourism, there are benefits to moving the festival. For one, Canada Day will fall in the middle of Pride Week. And Toronto Pride may also attract more visitors from the US.

Under the new festival schedule, the Toronto Pride festival will fall on July 4, the Independence Day long weekend in the US.

Also, Toronto Pride is no longer the same weekend as New York Pride, she says.

“Many people in North America would like to come to both events, Pride Toronto and New York Pride, and now they can,” she says. “It wasn’t the primary reason by any means. In the past we were on the same weekend, so people had to choose.”

Party promoter and Xtra columnist Matt Sims says hosting Toronto Pride on a different day from Pride in NYC is smart. He thinks it will help boost the star factor at some of the Toronto Pride parties.